The best remaining free agent in the NBA (No. 4 on our list) may stay unsigned for a while, as the Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe are still far apart in negotiations, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. The two sides are talking, but Bledsoe's team reportedly thinks Phoenix's offer is well below what the 24-year-old point guard is willing to sign.
Source: Eric Bledsoe is asking for full 5-year max. All 84 million. No discount to 80 or anything like that.— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) July 18, 2014
It's difficult to determine Bledsoe's value because he's a restricted free agent and teams are hesitant to throw him an offer sheet because it's believed Phoenix will match. But does that mean this saga will indeed drag out for a while?
Why Bledsoe won't be signed anytime soon
There's always a restricted free agent who hangs around because there's little incentive for his existing team to rush into an agreement. The Timberwolves didn't complete a new deal with Nikola Pekovic last year until August because nobody was willing to make an offer for fear of Minnesota immediately matching. The same thing may be happening to Bledsoe and Detroit's Greg Monroe now.
NBA Free Agency
NBA Free Agency
The game of chicken also especially makes sense because of Phoenix's situation. The Suns signed Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas earlier in free agency, and while the plan is to use him as a sixth man behind Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, he nevertheless is very capable of starting and thus gives the Suns leverage. Bledsoe, meanwhile, would have pushed for All-Star consideration if he wasn't hurt, so he rightfully believes he should cash in this summer.
It's also unclear who else might have enough interest in Bledsoe to get Phoenix moving. Milwaukee was one rumored team, but it must trade someone away to generate the necessary cap room to make a maximum offer. The 76ers also have max cap space, but they don't have a need for Bledsoe and are far more likely to use that space to rent players in exchange for future assets.
Why Bledsoe will sign quickly
Bledsoe has little leverage, so his camp easily could have leaked this information to get the Suns back to the table. If Phoenix bites, this agreement could come sooner rather than later.
It's also worth noting that the Suns have cap space to burn and no other obvious candidate to spend it on than Bledsoe, who at times was their best player. It's not like they have a major target that they're waiting on later in free agency.
Likelihood this drags out
The reasons for the Suns to wait on Bledsoe far outweigh the reasons for them to take care of business now. As Bledsoe's market dries up, he'll agree on a number the Suns want. 9 out of 10.